Google Reader Social Update, A Step Towards Google Wave?

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Over the last year, Google has been receiving increased pressure to become a real-time search engine, something like Technorati and Twitter.  They certainly have the lead in public content search (and advertising) over the Internet but a threatening amount of private and user information have started to surface behind the great wall of Facebook.  Research publications strongly people often rely on word of mouth or recommendations from other people to make their decisions. Although, Google's core strength is search (and lots of math), there is a lot of progress to be done on the social front.

A few hours ago and as reported by TechCrunch and Mashable, Google Reader received a significant upgrade which allowed following, liking and people searching.  You are not the only one to automatically see the link to Twitter and Facebook.  However, they seem to have set the default sharing method to public while offering the option of sharing only between friends.  In the past they have enabled a feature that allowed sharing but was unfortunately set to share by default to selected groups which may not have granted the best success.

A few points of criticism can already be made:

  • If you try to find the People Search button (aside from using the direct People Search link), you might not visually see it until you click on "Sharing Settings" and scroll down to "Find More People".
  • Some differentiation between Star (private bookmarks), Share (you share to others), Like (let the people who share it that you +1 on it), an interesting thing to know: are the links consolidated if unrelated people share the same feed?

Why Update Google Reader?

They could have chosen to enable Following and People Search through any of the Google products but they have chosen to use Google Reader (instead of Blogger, GMail or a new product).  My speculation on this comes from three things:

  1. The Reader platform was the one that was easiest to plug into 
  2. They must have figured through their business intelligence that people using Reader are more likely to connect to their friends from sharing and email interesting articles
  3. This effectively completes the entire blogging spectrum by adding a way for non-content creators to blog very passively on everything
    1. Online Journalism
    2. Blogging (Wordpress)
    3. E-Mail Blogging (Posterous)
    4. Micro-Blogging (Twitter)
    5. Commenting

This will effectively make the Shared Items and Comment View more attractive by adding the social features and possibly try to bridge the gap caused by RSS's slowness and the trend towards real-time information. From a web promotion and marketing perspective, if this catches up in popularity, it could become yet another channel to explore.  An attribute we could see as opposed to Twitter accounts is that there are mostly real people found using the profile search since there are no incentive to spam the directory yet.

Ripples to Form the Tidal Wave and What Could Be Next?


With Google Docs, Connect, Profile, Code APIs, Search Wiki, Tasks and now Follow and Share, it now seems clear they are building and testing the technological foundation towards one of the most promising product yet: Google Wave.  Previewed at Google I/O 2009,  Google Wave is:

  • is equal parts conversation and document: People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.
  • is shared: Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.
  • is live: With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

Compare this to the current implementation of Google Reader which allows pieces of it to work with RSS Items, Thoughts and Comments.

Some thoughts and speculation on the evolution of Google Reader, it does sound a lot like Google Wave though:

  • A combined RSS Items, People You Follow and Comment View becoming a Homepage
  • A global public and categorized view nicely visualized?
  • Integration of Google Docs Items
  • Their own API
  • Google Labs along with Widgets and Tasks
  • Tabbed and taskbar redesign
  • Hopefully, a consolidated settings page
  • More PR and Marketing about Google's real-time

Will Reader become the Wave or is GMail the most likely candidate?  

Is Google doing too much too fast or are they conservatively testing since they have shareholders now? Share your reactions in the comments section!

For now, follow us on Twitter for more News Reports on key search engine and social media development.

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